Whether you like them as a company or not, Dove has had some of the most powerful and brilliant ad campaigns throughout the last several years celebrating and empowering girls and women. The latest one floating through newsfeeds is a simple film of women in several cities around the world walking into a shopping center. They are presented with two entrances to choose from: one labeled “Beautiful” and one labeled “Average.” No explanation is given—they are left to form their own conclusions.
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It’s easy for me to sit on my couch while scrolling through my feed whispering, “beautiful! choose beautiful!” to the women on the screen, but I wonder what I would choose if given those same options for myself.
I guarantee you if I was with a friend or a niece or a daughter or my mom, I would take her hand and drag her triumphantly through the Beautiful door. No question, no hesitation.
But what if I was walking alone? What if I didn’t know anyone was watching? Filming? Would I still choose Beautiful for myself?
I like to think I would. Truthfully, however, it might depend on the day.
I’ve recently been pregnant, then lost a baby—our third miscarriage in two years. My body is unsure where it should go or how it should respond to all the fluctuating hormones and I’m fighting back the thoughts that insinuate: you’re broken. I’ve also recently had a change of diet (not entirely within my control—long story), which has made me feel less healthy. And then I went and made the ludicrous decision to chop off my long hair (that I used to get complimented on all the time by complete strangers—yes, that’s good for a boost) and now I look in the mirror and don’t like how the new cut frames my face. (I never realized how much pride I had in that stupid, messy mop of hair anyway.)
In truth, I’ve not felt very beautiful lately. I just haven’t.
And yet friends, I know the truth about beauty because I’d say it to you a million times over.
I’d tell you that your beauty is reflected in your humility, your vulnerability, your willingness to be known. I’d tell you that your beauty is your perseverance, your sensitivity, your creativity that somehow makes lovely things from the ashes. I’d tell you that your beauty is in the way you run your fingers through his hair when he’s driving, the way you clean up spilled milk with a tender, understanding wink, and the way you stand at the doorframe in the dark singing lullabies.
I’d tell you that your beauty is in the way you run a meeting, the way you problem solve, the way you read the news and discern between fact and opinion, and the way you’ve pushed out babies from those widening hips. I’d tell you that your beauty is in the way you glue gun together a dinosaur birthday party or the way you pull on your work clothes and take the littles outside to weed the garden beds. I’d tell you that your beauty is in the way you slipped a casserole in her fridge and the way you pushed through that last two miles, even when no one was watching.
I’d tell you that your beauty is in your words as you bleed out the last chapter and your sweat during the bone grinding re-write. I’d tell you it’s in the way you stir your pot, open your door to neighbor kids, study for your final exam, brew that steaming cup of tea for a hurting friend, and put your best face forward while interviewing for the intimidating position you know you were born to fill. I’d tell you it’s those nighttime hours of breastfeeding, those letters carefully written on real paper and stamped with love, the way your heart swells with pride when you see your best friend receive something she’s been longing for, and the way you handle disappointment with grace, dignity, and faith.
I’d also tell you it’s in the way you’re letting your gray sparkle through, the way the lines at the edges of your eyes frame your laugh, and the way your cheeks flush when you slip on your favorite flowy dress. I’d tell you it’s your new, bold lipstick and your cute earrings and those shoes you were so pleased to find on sale at the end of summer. (Because I know that stuff all matters a little bit, too.)
I could go on and on about the way I see beauty in you, dear one. And honestly? If I was willing to stop long enough to listen to my heart? I could make lists about my beauty as well. Because it’s there and it’s not vain to look for it. Humility is recognizing the masterful design of a God who wonders at our beauty every single day. (Remember, luv, when he made us he didn’t call us “good.” He called us “very good,” and he’s never told a lie.)
I realize most women have ugly days or fat days, bad hair days or tired days. But what if instead of letting our insecurities lure us to slink under the Average sign, hoping to go unnoticed, we speak to ourselves the way we’d want our daughters to speak to themselves? What if we could grab our own reluctant hand and pull ourselves through the door we know we’re made for?
What if we choose Beautiful, because we are?
p.s. This is not a sponsored post. “Beautiful” is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this last month (as I’ve grappled with my own insecurities) and the Dove video just spurred me to get my fingers moving and trickle out these thoughts that have been brewing—for me and for you. Because don’t we all need to embrace Beautiful a little more wholeheartedly? I think yes.